October 5 to 9 is Customer Service Week, an annual observance which celebrates the importance of customer service and the people who serve customers for a living.
A business in a good position to offer expert opinion on the importance of customer service is African Bank, which recently trumped traditionally strong contenders to take top spot as the country's best bank in the 2019 SA Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) report.
The SA-csi is an independent report on which local banks have the most satisfied customers. Scores are calculated based on brands exceeding or falling short of customer expectations, as well as the respondents' idea of the ideal product.
Eloise Boezak, Head of Customer Experience at African Bank, explains they were rated overall with a score of 85.7%, more than a full percentage point ahead of their nearest competitors.
"This represents a climb of over 7% from our score in the 2018 results, where we finished fourth. It is the first time a bank has made such a marked climb up the rankings in the history of the SA-csi. This improvement is due to a number of factors, all hinging on our dedication to placing our customers at the centre of everything we do,"
Building and achieving a customer-centric culture in a business is not easy, Boezak adds. It takes a lot of hard work and a shift in culture.
"Companies fail at this for many reasons. Quite frankly, the sheer volume and variety of customer data available today can be very overwhelming to an organisation trying to get closer to its customers," she says. "Many companies also do not have the systems needed to segment and profile customers, while others lack the processes and operational capabilities to target customers on a personal level."
She points out though that the most common barrier to customer centricity is the lack of an aligned company culture.
"In many companies the culture remains sales-driven or, customer centricity is considered a priority only for certain functions, such as marketing. To successfully implement a customer-centric strategy and operating model, a company must have an aligned culture and leaders who deliberately cultivate the necessary mind-set and values in their employees."
African Bank's corporate strategy and hard work in ensuring an exceptional customer experience resulted in these SA-csi accolades:
- Best overall
- Best in treating customers fairly
- Best in incident handling
- The bank people are more likely to recommend to others
- Best customer service contact centre
- Best branch network
- Best savings and investment product
- An emerging digital player
Boezak says they are delighted with these strong results, which are testament to all the hard work which has gone into improving every aspect of customer engagement.
"We thank our loyal customers and staff and remind other businesses that Customer Service Week is an opportunity to reinforce the impact of great service on customer retention.
"We will be using the entire month of October, not just Customer Service Week, to celebrate our people and to reinforce how important customer service is to our success and sustainability, and as a reminder that we want to continue being number one into the future," Boezak concludes.